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Q&A: If a tenant left without paying all the rent, then later someone else asks you for a reference, is it blackmail to ask the former tenant for the money they owe before you give the reference?

May 1, 2020

I’d have trouble fitting that scenario into a violation of Kentucky’s extortion statute, KRS 514.080, online at https://casetext.com/statute/kentucky-revised-statutes/title-50-kentucky-penal-code/chapter-514-theft-and-related-offenses/section-514080-theft-by-extortion

They owe you the money, and you don’t owe them a reference.

I did once have former tenants call a year or two later to ask if we would be willing to take the eviction off their record since they were having trouble finding someone willing to rent to them. I reminded them they still owed thousands in unpaid rent and repairs to the unit.

As a landlord, I don’t have the power to expunge the civil court record anyway.

This is a blog post, not specific legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is intended or created.